A Letter from John Durant, The Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director, MIT Museum
April 15, 2020
Dear Friends of the MIT Museum,
I hope you’re doing well through the COVID-19 crisis.
I write to update you on how the MIT Museum is responding to this crisis. Although we are now closed physically, we continue to deliver on our mission – “Making research and innovation accessible to all” – in other ways, and not least by continuing to offer content and engagement opportunities that speak to the new world in which we find ourselves.
If you like to use social media, please follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In these places, you will find that we’re sharing objects from our vast and varied collections, and offering a little respite with a weekly dose of Arthur Ganson’s magical kinetic sculptures. We’re also trying to bring a smile now and then.
We’re continuing to share stories from across the MIT campus, where in every corner and from every angle researchers are harnessing their skills to confront this terrible disease. From developing masks for frontline health care providers, to testing a protein fragment that may inhibit the coronavirus’s ability to enter human lung cells, MIT researchers are working to help us get through this crisis as speedily and effectively as possible.
The museum is proud to have played a small part in these Institute-wide efforts – for example, by donating materials to help with the prototyping of an emergency ventilator. And our director of collections, Debbie Douglas, has begun an effort to collect prototypes, samples, notes and other ephemera that document the extraordinary efforts that are underway across campus so that future generations can learn from our experiences. Debbie is also leading the students in her class STS.050 “History of MIT” to organize a letter writing project for the members of the Classes of 2020 and 1970 (whose own spring semester and commencement were upended by the protests against the war in Southeast Asia), with a view to creating a permanent record of the great “evacuation” and MIT in exile. Project Endurance went live on April 10.
On our website, we are posting programs and events that we will be hosting online, as well as educational resources for teachers and parents. Our Cambridge Science Festival is also offering activities and resources in their “STEAM Vault,” and I am delighted that the festival team have taken their Curiosity Challenge to the streets with a chalk drawing version. More activities are in the works.
We hope you and your loved ones are safe, and we’d like to hear from you. Please let us know how the museum can help you through these difficult times. Then we’ll get to work. Because that’s what MIT does.
With warm regards,
The Mark R. Epstein (Class of 1963) Director